I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to feature Acanthus. I’ve been following the designer, Nichole McIver, on Instagram ever since, watching as her design aesthetic evolves and loving each new collection more than the last.
I’ve put several pieces by Acanthus in magazine articles; shared the designs elsewhere, I even interviewed Nichole in April for a blog feature – but for some reason, I’ve been stuck in procrastination station when it comes to sharing it all with you.
I choose most of the jewelry I feature because I think it’s cool or pretty or interesting. I think all of those things about Acanthus’ designs, but it goes deeper than that: I feel a connection to this jewelry. It feels deep and true and right to me, like talismans I didn’t know I needed to help protect me against something I can’t name.
This pendant is one of my very favorites. It’s beautiful, but it also feels like it represents something very specific and important, even though I’d be hard pressed to articulate exactly what.
Something about Acanthus’ designs remind me of antique jewelry but it’s a feeling, rather than a strict resemblance. When I spoke to Nichole about her inspiration, it makes sense:
My inspiration typically comes from my background in art history. I studied illuminated manuscripts and I’m very drawn to the hand drawn and painted designs that adorned objects that were highly personal for the owners. Other sources such as ancient jewelry or more recently, antique jewelry, attract me because of the stories and symbolism behind these pieces and what they meant to the wearers at the time.
Acanthus’ customers love that the work is both raw and refined at the same time, and have a strong appreciation for pieces that are very unique and have a lot of character. Acanthus customers aren’t afraid of bold pieces that attract attention, and have a strong story behind them. “
A lot of dark jewelry – and by “dark” I mean both in color and in subject matter, i.e. snakes and swords and such, gives me a trying-too-hard feeling of HELLO HERE I AM, I AM A REBEL LOOK AT ME. There’s none of that here: these pieces are dark, yes, but in these designs it just feels right.
Part of what gives Acanthus’ designs their unique feeling is that Nichole makes every single piece by hand – each piece is hers, from inspiration to creation.
Everything by Acanthus is handmade by myself and no one else. It is important to me to be the only one creating my pieces, because I think people appreciate connecting with the artist behind them. When creating my signature gold patterning on silver, each and every line and tiny leaf is hand cut and individually applied, so there is a lot of unique effort that goes into each piece. I think it’s important to stress the value of the hand, time and skill of the artist more importantly than simply gold content or material value of a piece.
Jewelry is, after all, wearable art, and a Vermeer painting isn’t valued for the cost of the canvas and paint, but the artist’s unique hand and style.”
These rings – and the coordinating bracelets from the same collection – are the first pieces by Acanthus that I ever saw and I still think they’re fantastic. They’re simple, but graphic and captivating and powerful.
One last word from the designer herself! She loves custom pieces and commissions, and she wants to hear from you:
I’m trying to focus on a lot more on creating individual pieces with one of a kind and unique stones. I’m making what I’m inspired by in the moment, and really trying to let that inspiration guide me.
I am doing more custom work and I love working with clients and stockists to create pieces or small collections that are perfect for them.”
If you’re interested in custom work or collections by Acanthus, contact Nichole through her website (and then show me pictures when it’s done!!).